Technologist, Trainer, Technical Writer, Mentor
Career Coach, Public Speaker, Goshala Entrepreneru, Blogger
Q1. Please share your educational and professional journey?
I earned an engineering degree in Nagpur. For the first two years, I barely managed to pass! I was confused about my future prospects. With guidance from friends and seniors, I opted for a Master’s program in the US. My application was accepted by a few Universities. I had a good GRE score, which enabled me to get Dean’s Fellowship Award at the University of Texas. My first real job was with Cadence Design System in California as an intern.
My thesis advisor at the University of Texas offered me to continue with him for the doctoral program. He moved me to George Washington University in Washington DC after my Masters. For 3 years, I lived very close to the White House! I worked on a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, along with a few collaborators. During that period I taught a few classes to undergraduate students for Database Systems, Computer Architecture, and C programming. This was my first experience in imparting training. My research was focused on network security and privacy in location-based services. I earned my doctorate in 2011. Here is the link to my dissertation – https://bit.ly/2ZtXOHi. I have published a total of seven papers in international scientific journals and peer-reviewed conferences. Here is the link – https://bit.ly/2TrGUW4.
Intel Corporation offered me a full-time job in their facility in Oregon as a software developer. I worked there for six years in the domain of wireless R&D. My primary work involved designing and implementing large-scale software for multiple operating systems. I moved back to India in 2017 and joined MathWorks. There, my domain of work involved safety-critical and high-integrity software in the domain of automotive, avionics, and health. I describe my role in detail further in this conversation. I quit my job in December 2019 to focus on my passion for imparting training and writing. Here is the link to my personal blog – https://medium.com/@aniketpingley
Q2. You are a Technologist, Trainer, Writer, Mentor, Coach, Speaker, Blogger, and Entrepreneur. How do you handle all these work simultaneously?
That’s a great question. I will answer one by one. Given my research and industry background in Computer Science, I am a technologist forever! My key strength as a technologist is the ability to understand a wide variety of complex systems and processes, simplify and organize them into building blocks, and articulate in a way that can be understood by my grandmother as well as a seasoned professional incorporate. I keep myself updated with breakthroughs and innovation in science and technology.
I have been training faculty and students for about 8 months now.
I have trained my colleagues in Intel and MathWorks. It took me about five years to realize my passion for training! Finally I decided to quit my corporate job and build my profile as a trainer. I want to focus on the grassroots – the third/fourth/fifth tier colleges (so to speak) are in a dire need of upgrading their knowledge and skill set. I focus on translating my experience of 14 years in higher learning and industry to bridge the gap between their limited exposure and the world outside. I also have a decent civilizational sense – i.e. history, philosophy, and scholarly works of ancient to modern India. My training modules are built to also impart knowledge in that regard. I strongly believe a civilizational sense to any endeavor in India helps people assimilate it completely.
Writing/Blogging has come naturally to me. I read quite a lot. The storyteller in me is driven by my discomfort with things that don’t reconcile easily! And again, I will use a ton of civilizational context as analogies to make things simple for my audience. Of course, technical content is written formally. Even here, my discomfort with disorganized information and lack of uniformity motivates me present content better.
I have mentored and coached several students and young professionals to find their career paths. More than anything else, they need a listening ear – I am naturally good at listening. Also, I don’t attach myself to the outcome of my counseling. My typical attitude to provide guidance to the best of my ability and then keep a take-it-or-leave-it mindset. I believe in the informality of dialogue – otherwise it just sounds like a diplomatic interaction! I have spent hours simply walking and talking with anybody who needs advice. I do ensure that I too learn something from my interactions.
I run a Goshala – about 50 cows. I have had this dream for a decade. It finally was realized late last year. I partner with my Mamaji – he has been a great support. It’s a small entrepreneurial effort focused on making organic, chemical-free fertilizers (like vermicompost) and bio-pesticide using Gaumutra and dung. It has just started, so I can’t comment much on its success – may be in the next 2-3 years!
How do I manage all this? I am a swayamsevak. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has imparted invaluable training to me. I have become comfortable talking with people and building a network. My association with the RSS enabled me to manage multiple things at the same time. Also, I enjoy being productive. The lockdown in fact has been very tiring for me since I have taken on multiple projects!
Q3. How do you mentor students for academic projects and industry placement?
Mentoring students for academic projects is relatively straightforward. The wisdom one gains from experience and knowledge of industry must be imparted to aspiring youth. This, I believe, is part of my Samaj-Runa – one of the five debts a Hindu is born with. When I was a student, I never had an opportunity to have someone mentor me. I am simply filling that gap.
For industry placement, my contribution is on three fronts: i) resume critique, ii) mock interviews, and iii) referrals and forwards. Most of the mentoring happen through feedback from resume critique and mock interviews. Mentees typically have questions about industry trends and skills. I share my insight. Students write back to me on email and LinkedIn about their experience. I treasure their appreciation. During the lockdown I wrote two blogs for Indian students and young professionals in the US who are struggling to find perspective in the current pandemic. Both blogs very highly appreciated. Also, as mentioned before, I have been conducting training sessions for students and young professionals in India and the US.
Q4. What was your role at Intel and Mathworks as an Individual Contributor?
I love to code. I am proficient in several languages. C++ is my personal favorite. With Intel, I was located for 6 years in Oregon in the US. There I worked in the realm of Wireless Networks, Peer-2-Peer networks, Internet of Things, and Cloud Technologies. I have never kept track of the number of lines of code I have contributed – I am guessing its easily above a million lines. My typical day at Intel would involve putting on my headphones and code, code, and code! I still actively code for fun. It helps me relax. I also led small teams and worked with people across the globe.
I moved to India in 2017. I joined MathWorks in Bangalore. I worked in the domain of ADAS, i.e. autonomous driving, which was very different compared with Intel. I truly enjoyed working with a very young team. I would crack jokes and discuss politics, science, philosophy, etc. with them – fun times! I coded extensively in Matlab for two and a half years. Besides, I trained my team in advanced C++ and software design.
Q5. Currently you are a Freelance Trainer and Consultant. What kind of consultancy do you provide and what are their benefits?
I started helping a small fintech startup with setting up their IT backend. The pandemic derailed their plans so that is on hold. I have been training faculty, students, and young professionals on topics such as Distributed Systems, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Virtualization, Cloud, etc. I am helping a small academy in Nagpur set up their team; define priorities, and social media presence. The consultancy as of now is a little bit of several things. It is just taking shape – I am satisfied with the progress.
Q6. You mentioned your experience in student engagement and community leadership. Can you please throw more light on that?
As mentioned before, my association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has been immensely valuable. It enabled me to think holistically by getting involved in community activities. Even my passion for training has roots in my experience of community engagement and leadership. Listed below are my experiences with a few different organizations:
• Chapter Coordinator, Sewa International Portland, Oregon:
• Fundraising through awareness campaigns and corporate volunteer hours matching for emergency relief and health-sector projects.
• Built an executive committee of 14 members and trained them with different responsibilities such as web-coordination, content-creation, project-coordination, etc.
• Coordinated disaster relief activities, including door-to-door donor campaign and corporate fund matching in the Greater Portland region during the Nepal earthquake of 2015.
• Organized International Day of Yoga celebrations in Portland in 2015 and 2016; coordinated with 12 ethnic organizations to provide free sessions for different practices of Yoga.
• Outreach Coordinator, Intel India Employee Resource Group, Oregon
• Created a program for Intel employees to conduct on-campus mock interviews and resume critique sessions for engineering and science students in universities in Oregon.
• Created the ‘Indigineers’ program to mentor and guide primary and middle school students to code using Arduino boards and introduce them to Intel products.
• Chapter Coordinator, Hindu YUVA, George Washington University
• Founded the chapter & organized weekly meetups & talks on various topics of student interest.
• Organized international student-welcome programs to assist them with settling in and connecting them with the Indian diaspora and embassy in Washington DC.
• Mentored Indian students at Portland State University to start a Hindu YUVA chapter and obtain funding for various on-campus student events.
Q7. Where do you want to see yourself after 10 years in your career?
I see myself working in three domains that I believe are interconnected; Teaching/Training – Sewa – Writing. First and foremost, I would like to see myself established as a seasoned teacher/trainer in technology and soft-skills (public speaking, communication, etc). I want to utilize the network I would build with students, industry, and young professionals in engaging them with Sewa activities, especially in different regions in Vidarbha. On the sidelines, I would like to grow as a writer – technical and literature (non-fiction); perhaps publish a book or two.
Honestly, I don’t aspire to become something or to reach a point. I want to keep contributing symbiotically in the sphere of my interest. I get immense satisfaction in being instrumental in bringing a positive change in an individual or a community. In the next 10 years, I would consider my self successful if I still have this mindset!